Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Early Morning Waking

My 7-month-old son wakes early every morning and fights daytime sleep

I used the CLB book for my daughter from 3mths. She followed the routines after a week and is now a contented 2 year old. My son however is not adapting at all as well. He goes down exhausted at 7pm and falls asleep after about 1 minute of grizzling. He sleeps solidly through till 5:30am. He is then up and awake for the day – although not particularly hungry. I have been delaying his morning feed by ten mins each day until I am not feeding him milk until at least 6:30am. His room is in pitch darkness so much so he would not even be able to find toys to amuse himself with – should he want to! I have tried resettling him, controlled crying, cold turkey you name it. I tried each option for at least 2 weeks at a time and to no avail. Consequently it is a struggle to keep him up till 9am. When he goes down he falls into a deep sleep for 20-30mins and then he is up and screaming. He has a great breakfast and lunch with which I give him water so he is well fed and exhausted by 12:30 when he goes in his cot. But by 1:10pm he is up again and screaming. Again I have tried all the approaches and occasionally after an hours screaming he will sleep for another 15-20mins. I do give him a catnap of 20-30mins in the afternoon to catch up but he is still so tired and cranky. I know to get the day right the night would work better or vice versa. The problem is I can’t get either right. I can’t tuck him in because he automatically rolls on to his tummy to sleep – although he is in a sleeping bag. I tried to reinstate the 10pm feed but he was not having any of it – because he is just not at all hungry. Help, I am so tired from all the fighting that he now hates his bed and would never lie there and chat as he sees it as a horrible place to be. It is not the association I want for him.
He feeds at 6.30am: 20 min full breast feed, breakfast: 1 weetabix, with fruit puree, toast. 10am: Snack mashed banana or cracker or stick of cheese with 30mls of water from cup. 11.45pm – Lunch: spaghetti bolognaise, eats quite a large bowl and pureed fruit, 20-30mls diluted juice. 2.30pm: full breast feed of 15mins followed by biscuit or rusk. 3.30: water offered. 5.30pm Tea: mashed vegetable or tomato pasta, fingers of fruit, water offered. 7pm: full breast feed of 20 mins. He weighs 8.1kgs.

A baby who is going to sleep exhausted at 7pm and sleeping solidly at night is likely to wake early in the morning thus creating a vicious circle. Begin to help him by moving his bedtime forward. Try to get him into his cot by 6.40pm at the latest. This should mean he will settle down to sleep in 15-20mins rather than as soon as he is down. Use a lullaby light or music box to help him associate his cot with settling happily rather than grizzling or screaming as he does by day. If he does not already have a favorite toy to snuggle down with find him something soft and suitable you can settle him with. The problem of early morning waking will not disappear straightaway. It can take up to two weeks of earlier nights and a different nap routine by day for a baby’s sleep cycles to readjust themselves. You already have been consistent and persistent in the ways you have tried and will need to be with this as well.
Until his morning waking becomes later try putting him down for his first daytime nap slightly earlier. He is so tired by 9am he is fighting sleep. Give him a quieter wind-down time at 8.30am and spend 10mins looking out of the window and maybe looking at a book with him before settling him in his cot around 8.45am. Let him sleep for 45mins if he will. This is about one full sleep cycle. If he goes down less exhausted he may well settle for slightly longer.

To prevent your son going down exhausted at 12.30pm, push his lunchtime back to 11.30am. Then offer him 2-3 ozs of milk before settling him at 12.15pm to eliminate the possibility of hunger waking him after 45 mins.

Again, give him a quiet time before settling him down so he becomes happier to go down in his cot when tired. Using the same music and routine of looking through the window and then drawing the blinds, will all help him to form associations with settling and sleep. It is not always easy in a house with two small children but is well worth trying to fit in this 10mins of quiet before settling your son at each of his nap times.
Once he has begun to sleep later in the mornings for at least a week you can begin to move the daytime naps on again. Limit his morning one to 30 mins once he is waking nearer to 7am. Continue to settle him before 7pm. In the next few months your son will be becoming far more active with crawling and pulling himself up on the furniture and will be very tired by the end of he day.